F L A S H F I C T I O N
DREAMER FOR HIRE
b y e r i n f r i s t a d ~ p o r t t o w n s e n d , w a s h i n g t o n
THE DREAMER arrives on a path lined with rhododendrons and kinnikinnick. A woman wearing a linen suit waits for her in an open door. She offers a cold, nail-bitten hand and introduces herself as Ruth. She's an attorney, lives alone, sleeps but doesn't dream. There is little conversation. She shows The Dreamer to the guest bedroom. The Dreamer repeats "Ruth" over and over as she falls asleep.
The Dreamer makes her way down the long corridor. She passes Ruth who is pacing back and forth, smoking, barefoot in a long shirt. Shh, I'll go, says The Dreamer, she gently touches Ruth's shoulder as she passes. The Dreamer arrives at a carved cedar door. She brushes the cobwebs from the handle and releases the latch.
A single bare bulb lights the room. Containers are stacked from floor to ceiling: an old saltine cracker tin, sewing baskets, boxes from the liquor store, hat boxes, shoe boxes, a life-sized Russian nesting doll. The Dreamer motions for Ruth to join her. The two women sit under the light removing lids. Ruth finds a box labeled: "Christmas: Mom Drunk, Neighbors Call Police." She rips it open, shakes the contents onto the floor, tosses the box behind her.
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